New coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) does not spread equally among people of all ages. Young people, except those with underlying health problems, seem to be escaping the worst effects of the pandemic. An early study showed that only 10 of the more than 700 children known to have been in close contact with confirmed cases or who had recently been diagnosed with an infection in their homes tested positive.
None of the 10 children were under the age of 15 and none required respiratory support or intensive care. An earlier study, published in the journal Pediatrics, could be corrected to show that of the more than 2,000 confirmed and suspected cases of coronary pneumonia, only one had died. In order to infect animals or humans, the virus must hijack the cellular mechanism so that it can begin to replicate. This means that the virus first needs to find the entrance to the cell. The two coronaviruses that cause SARS and neo-coronary pneumonia have an important common feature: they use the same “keyhole” to enter cells, known as ACE2 receptors. Calum Semple, professor of children’s health and disease outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, speculates that ace2 receptors in a child’s lungs do not fit well with the virus’s key.